It’s normal for kids to feel sad, act grouchy, or be in a bad mood at times. But when a sad or bad mood lasts for weeks or longer, and when there are other changes in a child’s behaviour, it might be depression. Parents want to see their kids experience optimism, hope, and happiness. When mental health is holding them back and keeping moods low, it is time to get some support.
Depression can look different for different kids. For some, they will experience a flat affect, and find it hard to experience joy. For some, the low mood will appear as irritability or anger. And for some, it is classic sadness and a desire to withdraw. Children experiencing depression often feel negative about themselves, their situation and their future.
Support can help a child become aware of their moods and begin to learn strategies to help create more joy and optimism.
Signs and symptoms of depression in children
If you notice any of the following signs in your child, and these signs last longer than about 2 weeks, your child might have depression.
- Feeling sad, hopeless, or irritable a lot of the time
- Not wanting to do or enjoy doing fun things.
- Showing changes in eating patterns – eating a lot more or a lot less than usual
- Showing changes in sleep patterns – sleeping a lot more or a lot less than normal
- Showing changes in energy – being tired and sluggish or tense and restless a lot of the time
- Having a hard time paying attention
- Feeling worthless, useless, or guilty
- Showing self-injury and self-destructive behavior
- Feeling anxious